Let Them Be Little

A few weeks ago we went to Disney. It was the kids’ Christmas gift from us, and they were so excited! Ada Lynn, my normally tom-boyish 8 year old daughter, kept mentioning very casually that Disney had a place called Bippity-Boppity-Boutique where they dress you up as a princess and do your hair and makeup like a princess. I thought it was odd that she kept bringing it up, because this child is ALWAYS in sports clothes. She hates brushing her hair. She is barefoot as much as possible, and loves animals, and bugs, and all things outdoors. She is our little tree-hugging, mud-playing, hippy child. Princesses have never been her thing. But after about the eleventh time discussing the Bippity-Boppity-Boutique, I made a secret call and got her an appointment for during our trip.

Y’all….it was magical. Seriously. It cost a ridiculous amount of money, but it was worth every penny. She was so excited she could barely sit still when we arrived. She twirled and spinned in the picture-perfect gown she chose until even I was almost dizzy. She smiled and she giggled and she grinned. And she was so breathtakingly beautiful. I cried almost the whole time.

You see, I know this time is fleeting. She will go to a school next year with older kids who will enlightened her about so many things, both good and bad. The American Academy of Pediatrics states that you should have the full-on birds-and-the-bees talk with your child at eight years old. The reasoning behind that is that if you start talking early enough and openly enough about it, it eliminates the room for misinformation from classmates, while removing the stigma and embarrassment that may come from later talks. In theory, it opens the doors of communication between you and your child for important things while making sure they get correct information. I get that, I really do, but she is still basking in the delight of being a princess for a day at Disneyworld. We recently had the talk about the changes she can expect in her own body and emotions in the next few years, and we talked about menstrual cycles and the female anatomy. I could totally see the overwhelm in her eyes so we stopped there. I have the advantage of telling her, “You know I am a doctor, so there isn’t anything you can’t ask me or talk to me about. I promise I have heard it all.” (Maybe not entirely true. I am still surprised at times, but, you know…)

We just aren’t ready. She still plays with Barbies and walks around naked after her bath. She comes in and talks to me while I shower without thinking twice. I don’t intentionally shelter her from things. We have an “open book policy” and an “honesty policy” for our home: she can ask any question about anything she sees or hears and there won’t be repercussions, just truthful answers. We just haven’t had to have any really tough conversations yet. And we live on a farm, for Pete’s sake! They have watched us pull calves and seen nature in all her glory.

I guess I have two take-aways from this whole experience. Number one: all women like to feel beautiful. She was taking those darn itchy bobby pins out of her hair within two hours of leaving the castle and scratching at the makeup even sooner, but she felt gorgeous and the confidence and the smile associated with it were radiant. Number two: let them be little. I could have said no to that whole thing. I could have said, “That’s for girly-girls” and encouraged her to do something else. I could have told her she was really getting too old to dress up as a princess and that times were changing for her. But, you know what? Let them be little, because it only lasts a little while.

In His Love,

Dr. Allison Key